News / Middle East

    Gulf Arabs Remain Silent During Egypt Crisis

    Opponents of Egypt President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans during a protest outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2013.
    Opponents of Egypt President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans during a protest outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2013.
    Reuters
    Gulf Arab rulers are resisting the temptation to gloat in public about the political woes of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, a group most of them mistrust, for fear of deepening unrest in a country that remains a potential ally in their standoff with Iran.

    Officials and analysts said official Gulf Arab silence reflected a longstanding belief among the mainly small, U.S.-allied Sunni Muslim-ruled oil producers that their security is closely linked to that of Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab World, which is also Sunni.

    For most of the past 30 years Egypt has been a strategic ally for Gulf Arab states worried about being dominated by the much bigger, Shi'ite Muslim Islamic Republic across the Gulf.

    Now, with the stakes so high and Egypt's situation so volatile, the official thinking seems to be that public meddling might only make things worse, analysts say.

    Expressions of concern are couched in term of seeking the common good and favoring dialogue.

    “To have a peaceful and stable Egypt is very important for Saudi and the rest of the Arab world,” said Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman at Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, a body appointed by King Abdullah to advise on policy.

    Stressing he was speaking in his personal capacity, Askar said that given the anti-government protests' size, President Mohamed Morsi should be more open to the opposition's complaints.

    “I think it's advisable to give attention to these people and listen to them. He was elected and came to power with the voice of these people,” Askar told Reuters.

    The only official comments from the Gulf on the situation in Egypt came from Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, who appealed to Egyptians to avoid bloodshed, and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah.

    “In this period, although we are following the developments and events in Egypt with concern, I want to reiterate our confidence that our Egyptian brothers are capable of overcoming the current situation,” Sheikh Sabah said.

    UAE political scientist Abdulkhaleq Abdulla warned of a repeat of the Algerian scenario, where years of violence costing an estimated 150,000 lives followed the army's cancellation of 1991 elections that Islamists looked set to win.

    “The divisions in Egypt can ignite a cycle of violence, and if the army comes in, it may even be more violent,” he said.

    Ebtesam Al Ketbi, another UAE analyst, said the silence of most Gulf Arab officials did not mean they were not worried over the situation there.

    “They don't want to be accused of taking sides at this stage. The Brotherhood are always ready to accuse the Gulf of financing the unrest,” Ketbi, a political science professor at Emirates University in the United Arab Emirates, said.

    “But it is not a secret that there are those in the Gulf who want to see the fall of this model,” she added.

    Not all Gulf states are hostile to the Brotherhood.

    Qatar was alone among Gulf Arab states in celebrating the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, a foe of Iran and a longtime ally of the hereditary states that sit on nearly a quarter of the world's oil reserves.

    Qatar: Change in stance on Egypt?

    Qatar has been a major financier of the Islamist groups around the Arab World, including Egypt's Brotherhood.

    “Qatar must be viewing the situation in Egypt with alarm. It has been a backer of the Egyptian government and I see no reason that it will fall back from that,” Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Centre, said.

    But a change in Qatari leadership last week that saw the emir succeeded by his 33-year-old son Sheikh Tamim has raised questions about a possible shift away from the Brotherhood.

    Influential Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi had denied reports that Qatar's young emir had asked him to leave the country, but the denial has failed to quell rumors of a rift beginning to emerge with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    There were also unconfirmed reports that Qatar, which has flown hundreds of its citizens home since the protests began, had also recalled its ambassador, fearing for his safety.

    “The new Qatari Emir gave mixed messages in his first speech, first saying that Qatar does not take sides and then indicating that he will continue his father's policy,” UAE commentator Sultan al-Qassemi said.

    “But from the way he greeted Qaradawi, kissing him on the shoulder this shows a sign of respect for this man and what he represents,” he added.

    Unlike Qatar, most Gulf Arab states regretted losing Mubarak, fearing the Brotherhood's rise would embolden Islamists at home to challenge their long-established tribal monarchies.

    The United Arab Emirates has launched a crackdown on Islamists, culminating in the conviction on Tuesday of more than 60 people on charges of plotting to seize power.

    “For the UAE the story is very clear. The Brotherhood is now their enemy number one, closely followed by Iran,” said Toby Matthiesen, author of a new book on the impact of the Arab uprisings and sectarianism on Gulf states.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rosas Delima from: Malaysia
    July 03, 2013 1:54 PM
    The prolong chaotic conflict scenario in Gulf Arab State seems to be regarded as complex in nature. However with just a single line of words, it's sufficient to explain the complexity of mind & attitude of Arab people. Go to Surah 9 Verse 97 in Quran.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora